Hoffman celebrates reception with colleagues, Carrie Chapman Catt

Elizabeth Hoffman speaks at a reception for her in Beardshear Hall June 21, 2012. Hoffman is stepping down after serving as Iowa State’s Executive Vice President and Provost since 2007. Photo: Adam Ring/Iowa State Daily

Thaddeus Mast

A reception was hosted June 21 for Elizabeth Hoffman, who will be leaving her post as executive vice president and provost. Held in a full-to-capacity first floor atrium in Beardshear Hall, the speakers at the reception all paid tribute to Hoffman and her accomplishments, starting first with a surprise reeanactment of Carrie Chapman Catt, the woman for whom Catt Hall is named.

Although deceased for more than 60 years, she managed to thank Hoffman for her work with women’s rights, as Hoffman is the first woman dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as well as the first woman provost at Iowa State. Catt then awarded Hoffman a women’s suffrage sash.

Next to speak was Arne Hallam, associate dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He used the”Four Rs” to thank and praise Hoffman. The first R was “remembrance.”

“Betsy places great value on things that have happened in the past,” Hallam said. “She remembers acts from the past and, more importantly, pays it forward to others.”

“The second R is ‘resources,’” Hallam said. “My personal opinion is that Betsy’s strongest attribute is that she thinks like an economist.

“The third R I would like to bring up is ‘redemption.’ What I am thinking about here is that Betsy has always worked to provide additional opportunities and additional chances for people to do well.

“The final one is ‘resilience.’ I like the more active definition, which is the capacity of a system to survive, adapt and grow in the face of unforeseen changes, even great calamities.”

Suzanne Hendrich, president of the Faculty Senate, followed Hallam. She had a poem prepared about Hoffman’s contributions as well as about Iowa State. The poem starts as follows: 

“Cyclone bells shall ring tonight./ Slowly Iowa’s sun was setting towards the hilltops far away/ filling all the land with beauty at the close of one fine day,/ and its light’s rays kissed the forehead a man and woman there.”

Hendrich proceeded to thank Hoffman for the Faculty Senate by awarding her a plaque. An excerpt from the plaque read:

“She was an exceptional member of Iowa State University faculty, demonstrating respect, transparency and accessibility.”

David Holger was next in line to speak. Being associate provost for Academic Programs, he worked with Hoffman often.

“She proceeded to provide critical institutional leadership during a time that I think is arguably the most difficult time at Iowa State,” Holger said.

He also spoke of some of the major accomplishments Hoffman made, such as finding five deans for colleges during her time. He then gave her a hand-blown glass egg, made at Iowa State.

The final guest speaker was President Steven Leath.

“I’m here today to say thank you to Betsy. I think all of us are here to say thank you for her great service at this great university,” Leath said. “Thank you for your years of service at this university. I wish you the best in whatever you decide to do next, and I know that wherever you go, whatever you do, those folks will be better off because of your work ethic and your passion for people.”

Hoffman herself spoke last.

“I just want to thank all of you for an incredible five and a half years,” Hoffman said. “Iowa State is very much my home.”